Hello people! So, it’s been a while… not that that’s news. I promise, I do have a plan for staying on top of blogging in the future, but I’ll get to it in a little bit. Since it’s been so long, and I now feel comfortable in my new(ish) role, it’s time to get it all out there.
Sometime during Dylan’s 7th grade year, probably close to the beginning if I’m honest, I felt like some changes needed to be made. I’d been toying with the idea of homeschooling the kiddos after Eowyn was born in 2011, but I knew I wasn’t ready to do it then. I tried to talk to people about it, but I barely knew anyone who did it at the time, and they really couldn’t give me too much insight because they hadn’t been doing it very long. So, I just put it on the back burner. Fast forward to when we moved across the bay, to another county…
Prior to that move, Dylan was in a fantastic school. It was the best school in our county and was super tight on schedule and structure and college prep level stuff. Aside from one class that he was having a few issues in, Dylan really did well there. (Come to find out that he tends to have issues with that subject in general, but that will be addressed later.) Well, we had to leave that school in the middle of the year to move, and he finished out the year at a brand new school. There’s nothing really wrong with the new school at all, but it did seem like it took longer for him to find a niche there.
When he started 7th grade, I was hoping that things would finally level out and he’d make a few friends (not a lot though, introversion can definitely be found in our house). The year started okay. Then a few weeks in, I get notified that they want to put him in advanced geography/civics. That’s all well and good. I had no problem with that. Dylan had a problem with that. Not so much with the class itself, but more that they had to change his schedule around and that made it harder for him to get to one of his classes because he had to change PE times. And, of course, every single suggestion I had for trying to make it easier on him to get where he needed to go was shot down literally a day later in a mass school email saying why this particular thing wouldn’t work. It got to be such a headache.
Dylan got a few tardy slips to this one class because of the schedule change and no one would take the time to understand. Dylan is the kind of kid who doesn’t really speak up about things. I don’t know whether it is his natural introverted tendencies, or whether he just feels like he shouldn’t say anything. I really don’t know. What I DO know, is that every time I tried to contact this teacher, she literally had short, snipped responses and would only tell me to make an appointment. Now, I totally understand that she’s busy. My parents were teachers, my aunt was a teacher… I’ve spent a good portion of my life in a school and around teachers. However, I also know that I am busy. At the time, I had a baby who was still EXCLUSIVELY breastfeeding (a huge WIN for me) and I was in no mood to be going up there with a 6 year old, a 3 year old, and a baby, to have a discussion about things. I made this very clear to every teacher that I contacted. Just about all of them were totally okay and understood this, and were willing to answer any questions I had via email. All except this teacher. By this point, the year was almost over, so I just decided to have him stick it out.
The pull to homeschool was VERY real by then. I just felt like no one really understood the way he worked, and he isn’t very forthcoming with stuff, so I just saw that he was getting lost in the system. Like, I could tell that he was kind of getting a “label” attached to him that he was a loner and a bit of a trouble maker and that really is not him at all. I find it hard to explain how he works because it’s hard to explain how I work. Dylan and I are very similar in how our brains process things. Yes, he has ADHD as well, and I know I have some tendencies of it, so that can complicate things. And, if you don’t truly know what it’s like to have ADHD, then you can’t even begin to understand how to relate to kids/adults who have it. We can go through all the cutesy buzzfeed articles we want, but it will never fully explain what it’s like. Getting off track here (I did say I had some tendencies)…
All the while this was going on, Bella was enjoying her first year of Kindergarten. All-in-all, her school was okay. I did have some problems like them not telling me that she had been placed in a reading intervention class. Seriously. I freaking have a problem with that. She’s in KINDERGARTEN. She doesn’t have to know how to read everything yet. And then the homework… I mean, really? Who gives homework to kindergarten students? Do they really need that stress? Do the parents really need that stress? I digress… Overall, she was fine. She’s bright and very intent on being a good student.
So, as the homeschool bug was hitting me hard, I was having a hard time trying to explain why I wanted to do it. I knew it would cost some money. You CAN do it for free, but if you do, it’s almost entirely computer based (aside from field trips or hands on learning). Part of my pull to homeschool was to get electronics OUT of my kids’ hands. Too much technology too early is a problem to me. Dylan is the only one of our kids who has a personal device. We have two old iphones that we only have a few educational apps on that we let the girls play with every now and again. In Kindergarten, Bella was using an iPad almost every day, and Dylan had his own computer from school that he had to do everything on. I don’t think I ever saw him with an actual book, which is a total travesty, in my opinion.
Back to my reasons… I was trying to say that I wanted to homeschool Dylan because I felt like he needed more structure and that we could do better at developing his study skills and stuff. While all that is definitely true, that was only part of the reason (and not even the main part). Bella was just going to be homeschooled because Dylan was. I didn’t really have a reason to homeschool her, other than that it would be easier on all of us if they both did it. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry with drop offs and pick ups.
In all honesty, the only reason I really chose (and still choose) to homeschool my kids is the fact that I believe it is what God wants me to do. I feel led by Him to do this right now. Does it mean that I will homeschool them all the way through high school? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I am going to listen to what He is telling me to do, because He is the one who has all of our best interests in mind. I believe that obeying God is more important that listening to what anyone else has to say about it all. I still like to ask for opinions and stuff, but ultimately, because this is a God-calling for me, I’m going to do it.
Was homeschooling a success this year? Education-wise, sure! Bella will be completely done with her 1st grade work on Friday, she knows how to write in cursive, her reading is on track with her age/grade level, and her understanding of math concepts is definitely going well. Dylan is completing Algebra I, and he’s almost done with his History, Science, and Language Arts. Were we on a schedule? Ha! Definitely not.
If I have learned one thing, and only one thing, from this year – it is that homeschooling looks and works differently for EVERY family. What works for you, might not work for me. There are thousands of ways to homeschool your kids. A school day does not have to start at 8 am. You can bellyache all day long about how “real life starts at 8” because of jobs and stuff, but in all honesty, even if your homeschool doesn’t have an ironed-out routine like that, your children will still learn discipline and how to manage time. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s school day. Also, the biggest issue that I hear people talk about is socialization. Well, do you send your kids to school to socialize? I’ll bet not. You send your kid to school so he can get an education, right? They get in trouble for socializing at school. Also, you know the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, I’ve seen the village, and I don’t want it raising my kids. You can say all you want, but I’ve seen the way this society “educates” and I am vehemently against most of it.
I am educating my children, and probably doing a better job than some of the teachers they’ve had over the years. I have nothing against public schools and teachers because Lord KNOWS they need all the help they can get. And, if that is what works for your family, then by God, you do it. But, those teachers don’t know my children the way I know my children. They don’t know how to reach them in the best way. Many teachers don’t get the leeway to break up their methods to suit children who learn differently, but I can do that because they are MY kids.
Do you want to know what is most important to me in this whole thing? The most important part of this homeschool journey is developing relationships with my kids and having them develop better relationships with each other. They can’t do that in school. I can’t tell you how much of a difference I’ve seen in my kids. Prior to homeschooling, Dylan would hardly ever talk to his sisters without snapping at them. He never wanted to answer any of their questions on the way home and it was pulling teeth to get him to even try to play or spend time with them. I noticed Bella being that way a little bit while she was in school as well. She was just so tired at the end of the day that she tended to be short and snappy with Eowyn. I was really having a hard time with trying to fix it.
To me, your family relationships should be the most important relationships you have (aside from your relationship with God). Your family is all you have. You don’t have to be best friends all the time, but you need to be able to talk to each other without thinking the other one wants something, and you should be there for your family without a moment’s hesitation. That’s something I learned from my parents that I desperately want my children to learn. My parents will drop anything and be there if I need them. Seriously, no questions asked. If it is a need, they will do what they can to meet it. To me, they are the epitome of selflessness, and that is EXACTLY how I want to model and teach my children. So, the harsh relationships were really working on my heart in a bad way.
This year, there has been a MARKED difference in my children. Since they aren’t having to get up early and they weren’t being made to “sit still” for numerous hours at a time, they really were a lot more inclined to do their work without complaining. They actually TALK to each other without being ugly. Of course, they still get into sibling squabbles, but that’s just normal stuff. Aside from that, they really and truly get along much better and are more responsive to each other than they’ve ever been. Dylan will play with the girls, and he’s even being more social at church. What?? Did I say he was being SOCIAL?! Oh my heavens… Now, he’s not ever going to be a social butterfly, but that is totally and completely overrated anyway. But he is learning how to converse with real grown-ups about real things in a much better and safer way than if he were in school.
To me, the improvement in the family relationship is worth absolutely EVERYTHING. My kids may complain sometimes about the actual school work (because, well, duh, it’s school work), but I think they really liked not having to get up super early and still be able to be done with their work before the neighbors got home from school. As for me, I LOVED doing it, and I certainly look forward to doing it again. I really value the time that I’m spending with my kiddos. This next year, we get to include Eowyn some more, so she’ll be doing official school work with us.
I’ve hesitated so much about sharing this journey because I guess part of me was still afraid of what people would think. Some people might not think that I (with my college degree, perfect English ACT score, Junior and Senior Beta Club memberships, Valedictorian medal, and Phi Theta Kappa membership) am qualified to teach my children because I don’t have a “teaching certificate” or “education degree.” Well, they can think that all they want. I do not think that homeschooling is better than public schools. I think it’s better for MY kids right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s better by default. I was not homeschooled. I wasn’t public schooled either, but I did actually go to a school building and sit in classes from 8-3 every day, so the general idea was the same. Part of me is ready to defend my decision, even in a snarky way sometimes, and I’ve learned that I really shouldn’t be that way. There’s been a lot of growth all around on this journey.
The most current update for now is the news that I have launched my own Rodan+Fields biz! I’ve been using the products for over 7 months now, and I am in LOVE with my skin again. I have been thinking of taking the plunge for a little while now and just finally did it a couple of days ago. I really love this skincare line and I think it’s worth every penny and that it needs to be out there, so I’m officially an Independent Consultant for R+F.
I do still sell AdvoCare as well. I haven’t stopped that one. They don’t sell the same things, and I still love their products as well, so now I just sell both! Yay! Anyway, I’d love to tell anyone more about them, so if you are curious, please shoot me an email or message on Facebook.
That’s the end of the updates for now… If I have more, I’ll get on that. Oh, I did mention that I am planning a better way of keeping up with the blogging. Well, this next year of homeschooling, I will be formulating a daily plan with schooling/chores/etc on it. We didn’t have any structure this year, and while we still got all the work done, I could tell that we needed a more firm routine. With 4 kids, it’s easy to get off track, so we will definitely be incorporating a more set daily routine, and part of it will include blogging for me, so I’ll be able to keep this up to date in a more efficient manner.